CHS girls coach Chris Hawk and his runners keep their distance during a conversation before Monday’s morning run at Carl Sandburg Elementary.

By Kyle Daubs

These girls don’t want to wait 20 years for the school’s next appearance at state. 

The Charleston High School Lady Trojans cross country team is aware that the program last qualified for the state meet in 2014.

Before that, it was 1994. 

With an experienced squad buttressing two excellent frontrunners, second-year coach Chris Hawk sees a state run in this team. 

“Seniors Megan Garrett and Grace Spoonhour should be a tough 1-2 punch for us, not necessarily in that order,” said Hawk. “We do return six of our top seven from last year, however.”

As a junior, Spoonhour broke the 20-minute mark eight times, posting a personal best of 19 minutes, 15.1 seconds, after accomplishing that feat just once in her first two seasons at Charleston High School. Last year, Spoonhour qualified for the state meet as an individual and finished All-Apollo after a sixth-place finish.

Garrett qualified for the state cross country meet as a freshman and has run the second-fastest time in CHS history at 18:40. Injuries, though, have hampered her the past two seasons. She placed 14th at the Apollo Conference meet. 

Both runners are strong contenders for all-conference once again. Apollo champion Mahomet-Seymour, returning all seven of its runners, has a great chance to defend as team champion.  

“Mahomet and Mt. Zion were both slightly ahead of us last year and returned most of their runners,” Hawk said. “We will have our sights set on both of them. Elizabeth Sims appears to be the front runner with quite a few runners in the mix, including Kylie Haacke from Mattoon, Megan and Grace, and a tight pack from Mt. Zion.”

Richter might be the key to Charleston improving its third-place finish in the Apollo last season. As a freshman, Richter ran a personal best of 19:50 a week before the regional.

“After a great freshman year where she ran under 20 minutes multiple times,” Hawk said, “I expect sophomore Ila Richter to take a step up and be a consistent front runner in our conference.”

Juniors Lilly Long, Sophia Kattenbraker, and Casey Fisher all ran in the top-seven last year. 

“If it were a normal season, our goal would be to reach the state meet this year after an extended absence,” Hawk said. “I expect our team to be tough to beat this year, competing for one of the top few spots in nearly every meet.”

ROSTER

Seniors: Megan Garrett, Isabella Kieffer, Grace Spoonhour.

Juniors: Casey Fisher, Sophie Kattenbraker, Lilly Long.

Sophomores: Jordyn Kieffer, Ila Richter, Annabel Wehrle, Whitley Wood.

SCHEDULE

DateOpponentLocation
8/27Mattoon, NewtonEIU Panther Trail
9/5CHS InviteEIU Panther Trail
9/10Mt ZionFort Daniels Conservation Area (Decatur)
9/23MattoonMeadowview Golf Course
9/29TaylorvilleTaylorville
10/8Champaign Central, Mt. Zion, MattoonMeadowview Golf Course
10/13Apollo ConferenceEIU Panther Trail

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